There are few studies on wing flexibility and the associated aerodynamic performance of insect wings during free flight, which are potential candidates for developing bioinspired microaerial vehicles (MAVs). To this end, this chapter aims at understanding wing deformation and motions of insects through a combined experimental and computational approach. Two sets of techniques are currently being developed to make this integration possible: first, data acquisition through the use of high-speed photogrammetry and accurate data reconstruction to quantify the wing and body motions in free flight with great detail and second, direct numerical simulation (DNS) for force measurements and visualization of vortex structures. Unlike most previous studies that focus on the near-field vortex formation mechanisms of a single rigid flapping wing, this chapter presents freely flying insects with full-field vortex structures and associated unsteady aerodynamics at low Reynolds numbers. Our chapter is expected to lead to valuable insights into the underlying physics about flow mechanisms of low Reynolds number flight in nature, which will have great significance to flapping-wing MAV design and optimization research in the future.
Part of the book: Flight Physics